Loving Leftovers: New Uses for That Old Meatloaf


Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

That's My Story, and I'm Sticking With It

I grew up in the 1950s. My parents were young adults during the Great Depression, so they valued all of the blessings that we had—time, money, shelter, and food on the table.

We had one car (very used), a 60-year-old house (that was always in need of repair), a vegetable garden (to supplement food on the table), and a menu rotation that was so predictable you pretty much knew what day of the week it was by stepping into the kitchen rather than looking at the calendar.

Heavy on carbs, light on meat, but liberally dosed with love. Mealtime was not the time for instant-messaging, surfing the net, or playing Candy Crush. Of course, those things didn't exist, but even if they had, I know that they would not have been present at our dinner table. We talked. We shared the day's stories and memories of long ago. We laughed, and we loved one another.

What's the Point of This Story?

Simply stated, we cherished our mealtimes not only for the food but for the togetherness. Times were tough, but we were tougher. No food was wasted (I think it was a sin against the 11th Commandment), but we didn't have "leftovers." We had "planned-overs." That's the way I was raised and the method I use in my own kitchen, even 60+ years later.

I am writing this article, hoping that I might turn it into a semi-regular series; how to use leftovers in a thoughtful, frugal, and tasty way. Last month we focused on leftover mashed potatoes. This month our topic is meatloaf. It makes a great weekday meal, and the leftovers can certainly make a tasty lunchtime cold sandwich, but could they become more? Let's look at some possibilities.


Carb Diva Meatloaf Recipe

Before we create the perfect use of meatloaf leftovers, don't we need to have the perfect meatloaf? Just in case you don't (or wonder if there is something better than the recipe you have in your file), here is my version of the perfect meatloaf.


  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/4 ground turkey sausage, Italian seasoned (I like Jennie-O)
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced (I prep'd mine in the food processor)
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely minced
  • 1 large carrot, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, (you could substitute another flavor if you wish)
  • 1 pkg. Stove Top stuffing mix (any flavor)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 11x7-inch baking dish.
  3. Saute the minced onion, celery, and carrot in the olive oil for about 3 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Place in large mixing bowl with ground turkey, turkey sausage, and remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Shape into a loaf and place in the prepared pan. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Meatloaf Egg Scramble

I love brinner (aka breakfast-for-dinner). Kevin dices his leftover meatloaf, sautees in a pan until the edges are crispy, then adds cooked potato, eggs, and some cheese. A tasty hash that you can adapt to whatever you have in your refrigerator and pantry. Don't have cheddar cheese? You could use swiss. Herbs are starting to wilt? Mince and toss them in.


Meatloaf Tacos


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can refried beans
  • 2 cups leftover meatloaf, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 8 taco shells
  • Suggested garnishes - grated Cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, diced tomato, sour cream, guacamole, chopped cilantro


  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion.
  • Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the refried beans and cook for 3 minutes more.
  • Add the crumbled meatloaf, chili powder, and tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the taco shells as directed on the package until crisp and hot.
  • Fill taco shells with taco/meatloaf mixture.
  • Garnish as desired.

Meatloaf Eggrolls

East meets west in this fun fusion of meatloaf tucked into crispy egg rolls. Don't skip the dipping sauce. It's the perfect pop of flavor to take these over the top.

And Other Ideas

  • Use leftover meatloaf in spaghetti sauce in place of cooked ground beef or turkey.
  • Add to chili.
  • Use to top a pizza.
  • Add to macaroni and cheese.
  • Stir into a vegetable or split pea soup.
  • Use in place of cooked ground beef in tater tot casserole.

© 2018 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 29, 2018:

Lawrence, I like that rule. I think our households growing up must have been quite similar.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 28, 2018:


Number one rule at our house is whatever meal we make has to do three meals!

That means lots of planning and little waste, but yummy meals. Meatloaf is a favourite.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 07, 2018:

Shauna, my personal favorite is the scramble, but now you've got me hungering for a crisp taco {{sigh}}. I guess it's time to make meatloaf again!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 07, 2018:

Diva, these are all great ideas. I've never done much more than have a good ole cold meatloaf sandwich with the leftovers. I think the meatloaf taco is brilliant!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 03, 2018:

I will get to this - maybe tonight.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 01, 2018:

Larry, I've seen your posts and have no doubt that your wife makes an awesome meatloaf. Thanks for stopping by and for your support!!

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on June 01, 2018:

Linda, my wife is a specialist at meatloaf leftovers. I will have to show her a couple of these ideas. Everyone that eats my wife's meatloaf says that it is the best they have ever eaten.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on June 01, 2018:

Linda, I love all of these ideas. I've been having meatloaf with ground turkey lately for my crockpot meatloaf recipes. I've seen mini loaves in muffins. I remember having hot meatloaf sandwiches from way back when, even with stuffing. I would love to give your suggestions a try.

manatita44 from london on June 01, 2018:

Yes. I read. He is saying it's to 'darn' good. Too delectable. I agree. Lol.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 01, 2018:

Like I said about my handicap I am trying to overcome. But for sure you will get a picture of his following your recipe.

It is going to be sooooo muccch fun. I do not know if I am savoring the food or fun more.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 01, 2018:

Little man is cooking again? I wish I could have seen a photo of those tomatoes. I'll bet they would have been pleasing even to Gordon Ramsay!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 01, 2018:

Linda I need a new computer. My courser works like a phantom ghost. I am having to start anything over just to make sure I did not miss. My wife is doing Pho tonight so it will be tomorrow that my boy cooks it.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 01, 2018:

Manatita, I've heard from Mr. Bill, and he says that he doesn't understand the concept of "leftover meatloaf" LOL.

manatita44 from london on June 01, 2018:

I'm sure that Bill will love this kind of frugality. Awesome!

I tend to eat all my breakfast. It is the lunch that I will stretch. Have a happy day!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 01, 2018:

Bill, you need to bake a bigger meatloaf.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 01, 2018:

Flourish, are you suggesting that there might possibly be "too much chili?" Now THAT sounds like a challenge, but I'm willing to give it a try but it won't happen for a while (maybe in the Autumn when a bowl of steaming-hot chili sounds like a good thing). Next month (July 1) is using up stale bread.

Stay tuned.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 01, 2018:

Eric, the recipe for MY meatloaf is contained right here under your nose. "Carb Diva's meatloaf" is the first thing you'll find under Recipes.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 01, 2018:

My first impression is this: who would have leftovers of meatloaf? This is one of my Top Five meals and has been ever since I was a kid growing up at the same time as you in the same city as you....thanks for the recipes but seriously, there is no way I leave meatloaf on the table. :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 01, 2018:

My mother used to chop it up and serve it as sloppy joes. For the longest time that’s how I thought sloppy joes were made. I like the ide for your article. How about chili next?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 01, 2018:

You are just killing me. This is fantastic. I don't think I have ever even cooked meatloaf. (could you please send me your recipe hub - I am such a Luddite in searching in HP)

My son and I watch TV. And I would think that we never go 10 minutes without a pause and chit chat, lesson or just silly talk.

For sure we have never eaten without critique of our food. So I double loved your intro here.

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